IDW in trouble - How Can the Comic book industry be saved?

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Sparky Prime
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Re: IDW comic sales

Post by Sparky Prime »

Shockwave wrote:And the replies in this thread were 100% anticipated. I mean no offense to anyone here, but I am going to call out the problems that I see. It's the same problem that I run into in the various Masonic organizations that I belong to: "But that's how we've always done it." That's not a good thing.
I don't think anyone is saying "But that's how we've always done it" here. I'd agree, there is a problem with how Marvel and DC handle storytelling. But for me personally, I just don't think restarting everything from zero is a viable solution to that problem in the long run. We've seen both companies make attempts at restarts. It has short term success, but it doesn't work for the long term.
I remember a time when a Star Trek reboot would have been unthinkable because the fans would have hated it, but here we are, years later and it happened. And yes, there were some fans that hated it, but I think it's done more good for Star Trek than keeping everything for the fans.
Not really.... I mean, that reboot didn't actually erase anything, given the creators established the "Kelvin timeline" as being a separate universe (even though that isn't how time travel has ever been shown to work in Star Trek) to the "Prime timeline". I'd compare the "Kelvin timeline" more to what Marvel's Ultimate universe is/was to 616 universe than an actual reboot. The "Kelvin" having some re-imagined/modernized elements (even prior to the actual time travel event), both universes existing simultaneously and independently from one another, and having some limited amount of crossover between the two. I also wouldn't say it "has done more good for Star Trek". It may have created a boost of interest in the short term, but there's a reason why they can't get plans for a fourth film off the ground, and why the TV series (Discovery and Picard) have gone back to the "Prime" universe setting. Hell, Picard has probably gotten more interest going for Star Trek in decades because it is something fans have been asking for ever since the Enterprise series.
Keeping the existing fandom happy is not going to keep the hobby going.
I'd very much have to disagree with that. Take a look at Star Wars these days. The movies aren't doing as well as anticipated, the merchandise reportedly isn't selling, and I've heard attendance at the Galaxy's Edge attraction isn't up to expectations either. And what has Disney largely blamed that on? It's the "toxic fans" fault. Imagine if Disney had actually put out a good Trilogy more existing fans actually enjoyed. Do you think Star Wars would still be in the current state that it's in? Now... Star Wars is a big enough franchise it'll probably survive regardless, but it'd be a lot more healthy right now if the existing fandom was happy with the direction it'd taken.

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Re: IDW comic sales

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I hear this answer all the time: "Start where ever you want". Here's the problem with that: Most people don't do that for most other mediums. Movie fans usually start a series of movies at the beginning, get a linear story that goes to a linear end. Same with TV and even video games to some extent. Books also tend to have a very linear format. So to tell people who expect to follow a character in a story from beginning to end that they should just start where ever they want is ridiculous.
Telling somebody to start with a specific run (Burton "Batman" movies, Peter David "Incredible Hulk", whatever) is not the same as "just start where you want".

If somebody asked me about "Transformers", I would say "start with the series that began last spring". If they asked about anything before early 2019, I would suggest a few of the better arcs or runs, and tell them not to try fitting everything together. ("Man of Iron" need not correspond to "the War Within", which need not correspond to "Last Stand of the Wreckers".)

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Re: IDW comic sales

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Shockwave wrote:And the replies in this thread were 100% anticipated. I mean no offense to anyone here, but I am going to call out the problems that I see.
I hope you'll keep on doing that. No offense is taken. :)
It's the same problem that I run into in the various Masonic organizations that I belong to: "But that's how we've always done it." That's not a good thing.
I agree, what the comic book companies are doing isn't working. And I think they know it too. All I'm saying is that whatever the solution is (if there is one), they can't afford to lose existing fans and loyal customers in their attempts to gain new ones. The readership of these books is not so large that they can afford to alienate existing readers.

Superhero comics are a fairly unique form of long-form storytelling. There may be some newspaper strips that have run as long (I"m thinking of strips like Dick Tracy, adventure rather than gag strips, which are a different animal altogether), but most stories and series have a start and a finish and a number of episodes or issues in between. But you're not going to get that with DC or Marvel, which is why I advocate a familiar status quo so that any reader that picks up a book sees something familiar, making it easier to engage with the plot of the month. And stories should be done in one or two, so there's resolution for those that need a story to start and end. The characters keep going, the stories don't.

Marvel have figured out how to make their characters enormously successful as movies. There ought to be a way to do that with their comics. So should DC.

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Re: IDW comic sales

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Actually advising someone on where to start with specific examples is actually a useful and productive answer. And I have had people be helpful before. The owner of my comic shop is actually pretty good at this when I ask. But, the usual answer is "Start where you want" with a follow up of "read a story. If you like it, keep reading and if not, then it's probably not for you". Not particularly useful nor does that kind of response encourage anyone to get into the hobby.

Whatever you wanna call the Abrams Trek movies, they tried for something that would appeal to a mass audience and not pander to the existing fandom. Thanks to that, we now have Discovery and Picard. I don't think we're close to another Star Trek "Dark age" anytime soon and we have those movies to thank for that, regardless of what the existing fandom thinks of those movies. I can rest easy knowing that even though they're having trouble making a fourth movie, there will at some point BE another movie. Whether that continues the existing continuity or does something different, time will tell, but those films made Trek popular enough that it's here to stay.

Star Wars may have questionable content at the moment, but the house of mouse isn't going to quit making Star Wars movies. They may have to rethink their approach and what the nature of that content is, but gone are the days when the last movie was over 10+ years ago with nothing on the horizon at all. Say what you want about the sequel trilogy, those films have ensured that Star Wars is here to stay.

So appealing to a mass audience ensures that the company producing it sees it as something consistently viable and keeps putting out new content. Once that's established they can play around with things and produce stuff that appeals to fans new and old alike, which definitely is better for something than not. It ensures that "that thing I like" continues to be a thing that still exists rather than something I enjoyed a long time ago. I can think of so many things that have had long stretches where it looked like we were never going to see anything new. Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers... hell He-Man is STILL in that limbo. yeah, there's a movie getting made for that. And regardless of it's eventual quality, I hope it appeals to enough people to ensure that it continues to be a thing.

As for comics, they need to cut the baggage, period. It bogs everything down, discourages new readership and trying to fit all the pieces like some jigsaw puzzle from Hell makes for constantly shitty writing and reboots. DC is commended for at least trying. The New 52 failed not because they ditched the baggage, but because they didn't solve the other problems with the industry. It doesn't do any good to Etcha-Sketch everything to draw in new people if the only people who know that you're doing is your existing customer base. They could have succeeded had they done a few other things. Which really means there are three main things comics needs to do if it's going to survive as a medium.

1. Ditch the baggage. No one new is going to come into a story that's literally 100 years old (Action Comics #1 came out in I think 1920). Nor is anyone new going to sift through that much content to spin the wheel on hitting a story they might like.
2. Make comics more available. Sell them everywhere and anywhere that magazines are sold. Diamond is a monopoly that needs to be broken so that there can be competition to get comics to places more accessible to more people.
3. Advertise everywhere. Seriously. The only places I see ads for comics... are in other comics. Again, selling to the existing dwindling customer base. Superman 75, the Death of Superman is the highest selling comic of all time. Why? Because everyone knew about it and wanted to read it. It was all over the news, there was even a Saturday Night Live sketch about it... yeah, it was everywhere. Comics should be advertising on tv, youtube, pretty much anywhere they can so that more people know what's out.
4. Yeah, I know I said three, but this bears mentioning: Good writing. They need to focus on telling interesting compelling stories with the characters they have. A status quo would be fine, but the writing should come first. The New 52 would have done better if they had gone with the most popular iterations of their characters, advertised it everywhere to get new people reading it and made it more available so that people could easily buy it.

I'll end this post with a quote from the most recent Star Wars content: "I have spoken".

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Re: IDW comic sales

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Shockwave wrote:Whatever you wanna call the Abrams Trek movies, they tried for something that would appeal to a mass audience and not pander to the existing fandom. Thanks to that, we now have Discovery and Picard.
Are you kidding? They do a ton of pandering to the existing fandom in all of those films. Hell, the second film is literally a (bad) rip off of the Wrath of Khan. And actually, because CBS and Viacom were separate companies at the time (and only recently re-merged), to my understanding of the legalities, we got Discovery and Picard in spite of those films, not thanks to them.
I don't think we're close to another Star Trek "Dark age" anytime soon and we have those movies to thank for that,
Another? The Star Trek "dark age" hasn't ended, so long as people like Alex Kurtzman are in charge of it...
I can rest easy knowing that even though they're having trouble making a fourth movie, there will at some point BE another movie. Whether that continues the existing continuity or does something different, time will tell, but those films made Trek popular enough that it's here to stay.
There is no guarantee there will be another movie at this point. And in no way is it because of those films that Star Trek became "popular enough to that it's here to stay". That already happened decades ago with the popularity of the previous "Prime" films and TV shows. At best, all these "Kelvin timeline" films did was help revitalize the franchise a bit after the lull it found itself in during the 2000's after Enterprise failed to perform well and got cancelled.
Star Wars may have questionable content at the moment, but the house of mouse isn't going to quit making Star Wars movies. They may have to rethink their approach and what the nature of that content is, but gone are the days when the last movie was over 10+ years ago with nothing on the horizon at all. Say what you want about the sequel trilogy, those films have ensured that Star Wars is here to stay.
Star Wars was already "here to stay", but that's got nothing to do with Disney. Even if they didn't make any more movies, the franchise was going strong with the cartoon series and the like. And again, my point was that the franchise would be healthier if Disney was putting out content the fans enjoyed, which as even you have to admit, that content is questionable at the moment. I'd also point out, Disney had plans to release a new film every year, but all their upcoming movie plans were put on an indefinite hiatus after Solo flopped. And honestly... do they really need any more movies at this point? I mean, if the Sequel Trilogy is any indication, I'd rather just stick to the films George Lucas created.
As for comics, they need to cut the baggage, period. It bogs everything down, discourages new readership and trying to fit all the pieces like some jigsaw puzzle from Hell makes for constantly shitty writing and reboots. DC is commended for at least trying. The New 52 failed not because they ditched the baggage, but because they didn't solve the other problems with the industry. It doesn't do any good to Etcha-Sketch everything to draw in new people if the only people who know that you're doing is your existing customer base. They could have succeeded had they done a few other things. Which really means there are three main things comics needs to do if it's going to survive as a medium.
Again, I couldn't disagree with you more. Admittedly, when I first got into comics or reading certain characters, I was a bit intimidated by the continuity. But you know what? I actually ENJOYED learning all about that. You claim it discourages new readership, but in my experience, it's the exact opposite. It encouraged me to seek out older stories. And there is absolutely no reason continuity has to bog down a story. I'm tired of seeing that as an excuse. I've seen plenty of stories that stand on their own, with out the need to know/understand every bit of continuity that came before it. Yet, at the same time, knowing that backstory only enhances that story. And I love how nondescript you're being here. The New 52 "didn't solve the other problems with the industry" and would have succeeded "had they done a few other things"? Like what? All you're really suggesting is needed to fix it is just that the industry needs to ditch the baggage and make comics more accessible. When, again, both Marvel and DC have tried that. And both ended up reverting back. It's not a long term solution, period.
3. Advertise everywhere. Seriously. The only places I see ads for comics... are in other comics. Again, selling to the existing dwindling customer base. Superman 75, the Death of Superman is the highest selling comic of all time. Why? Because everyone knew about it and wanted to read it. It was all over the news, there was even a Saturday Night Live sketch about it... yeah, it was everywhere. Comics should be advertising on tv, youtube, pretty much anywhere they can so that more people know what's out.
*Cough* *Cough*
I'll end this post with a quote from the most recent Star Wars content: "I have spoken".
"This is the way."

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Re: IDW comic sales

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I don't think we're close to another Star Trek "Dark age" anytime soon and we have those movies to thank for that, regardless of what the existing fandom thinks of those movies.
The "dark ages" that we grew up with were during a time when it was assumed that people would not keep buying the same franchise year after year. Trekkies, and sci-fi fans in general, proved that keeping a franchise going was a viable option.

But, fandoms are not going to get or stay as big because there is more competition. Stuff like "Fortnight" or "Call of Duty" are hug by today's standards. But, they are positively anemic by classic standards.
So appealing to a mass audience ensures that the company producing it sees it as something consistently viable and keeps putting out new content.
The question is how reliably does the mass audience keep coming back. A fandom provides a predictable "base" for something, which is why many content producers fall into the trap of only playing towards fans.

Newbury Comics is a local chain that sells pop-culture. Call them a comic store, a music store or whatever. They sell pop culture. And, their inventory is some of the least reliable of anything that I have seen. I have seen and found out about more things at Newbury (which I use as a tertiary source for comics) than anywhere else. But, I do not use them for anything consistent because I cannot trust them. (Their pull-file system is less reliable than the shelves at many other stores.)

But, Newbury is not pitching to fans. They are pitching to the masses.

I hope it appeals to enough people to ensure that it continues to be a thing.
He-Man will be held back by poor brand management and worse distribution (as it has for the last 20 years).

1. Ditch the baggage. No one new is going to come into a story that's literally 100 years old (Action Comics #1 came out in I think 1920). Nor is anyone new going to sift through that much content to spin the wheel on hitting a story they might like.
Picking a run or arc to read assumes that the new reader can find a coherent and reliable summary (which many fans are incapable of providing).

Contrary to popular belief, most comics do not require readers to have years of backstory memorized. I have gone back to various series after skipping them for years, but have not needed to read up on anything that I have missed.

2. Make comics more available. Sell them everywhere and anywhere that magazines are sold. Diamond is a monopoly that needs to be broken so that there can be competition to get comics to places more accessible to more people.
Diamond is not the problem here. Do you really think that Diamond is making a concerted effort to not sell more comics in more places? Do yo think that publishers would not tell Diamond where to go and what to do with themselves if they could sell more comics without diamond?

The simple fact is that comics are only going to sell so well outside of a comic store. Many stores would not consider comics worth the shelf space.

3. Advertise everywhere. Seriously. The only places I see ads for comics... are in other comics
Print media is supposed to sell/be advertising, not buy advertising.

Marvel and DC selling car ads (which makes them money) is correct. IDW advertising its own product is incestuous, and model destined for failure.

People know that comics exist. But, they do not see comics are worth buying.

The New 52 would have done better if they had gone with the most popular iterations of their characters, advertised it everywhere to get new people reading it and made it more available so that people could easily buy it.
Many of the changes to DC with "New 52" were for the purpose of making the characters screen friendly (less spandex, more armor and such).
Another? The Star Trek "dark age" hasn't ended, so long as people like Alex Kurtzman are in charge of it...
By "dark age", he means "lack of new content".

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Re: IDW comic sales

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Dominic wrote:By "dark age", he means "lack of new content".
Yeah, no, I know what he meant. But that doesn't mean the "dark age" is over just because there is new content, when that content isn't up to par with what Star Trek should be.

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Re: IDW comic sales

Post by Shockwave »

Sparky Prime wrote:
Dominic wrote:By "dark age", he means "lack of new content".
Yeah, no, I know what he meant. But that doesn't mean the "dark age" is over just because there is new content, when that content isn't up to par with what Star Trek should be.
Actually, that's exactly what it means. According to Time Magazine's 50 years of Star Trek magazine, they chronicle the history of Star Trek and identify three "Dark Ages". The first started in 1969 with the end of the original series, the second after the end of Enterprise, the third was after Star Trek Beyond and was listed as "the shortest and hopefully the last" such Dark Age. Just because YOU don't like the content doesn't mean it counts as a Dark Age.

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Re: IDW comic sales

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Shockwave wrote:Actually, that's exactly what it means. According to Time Magazine's 50 years of Star Trek magazine, they chronicle the history of Star Trek and identify three "Dark Ages". The first started in 1969 with the end of the original series, the second after the end of Enterprise, the third was after Star Trek Beyond and was listed as "the shortest and hopefully the last" such Dark Age. Just because YOU don't like the content doesn't mean it counts as a Dark Age.
Oh, so just because a writer with Time Magazine classified something as a "Dark Age", then that's what EVERYBODY has to believe and define it as? No. It's an arbitrary classification, that whoever wrote the article simply chose to call the periods without content, and they are no more an authority on the matter than anyone else is. It's no different than me calling this current age of Star Trek a "dark age" because of the poor writing (and a lot of fans feel the same way). Which actually would be more fitting, considering the term "dark ages" was coined by Francesco Petrarch, for what he perceived as a lack of quality in the literature of the Middle Ages.

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Re: IDW comic sales

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It was the cancellation of the original series that made it a success, because it went into syndication and grew a huge audience. That's how we got the animated Star Trek with the original cast and the series of movies also featuring that cast. I have a hard time classifying that era as a dark age at all, since it allowed the series to flourish, even with a few years between new installments. Just my opinion.

As for the second break, after four series and eighteen years worth of content I think Star Trek had become fairly stale by the end of Enterprise. I think it needed a rest. The "dark age" was actually a healthy thing.

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